Cleaning up a Fascinating KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

I am not sure where Jeff found this old pipe but I like it. Once again he showed that he has an eye for old and unique pipes. This one is a ¼ bent bulldog with a large bowl and a unique rustication pattern on the underside of the bowl and on the shank. The pattern on the shank was framed with smooth frames. The cap on the bulldog was also smooth above the twin rings. The bowl was coated with varnish or some shine coat that was worn off of the smooth part of the pipe but remained in the grooves. The rim top had a lot of dents and damage but that will become evident in the following photos. It was stamped on the left underside of the diamond shank on a smooth panel. It has the KBB in a cloverleaf and next to that it reads Yello-Bole over Cured with Real Honey. Next to that is the symbol for a registered trademark ® (R in a circle). Underneath it reads Premier over Imported Briar. On the stem is the propeller inset logo that appeared on older Yello-Bole pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took some close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. The bowl interestingly, still had some of the Yello-Bole Honey Cured coating on the top edge and the bottom half of the bowl. The rim and cap had been knocked hard on surfaces to empty the bowl. There was some lava and dirt on the rim top and the sides of the cap but there was very little cake in the bowl and the edges looked to be in good condition.Jeff also took photos of the bowl from various angles to show the condition of the finish. You can see the crackling varnish and dust in the grooves of the rustication. The varnish is worn off the smooth portions and high spots on the rustication. There is also dust and crackling varnish filling in the twin rings that separate the smooth cap from the rusticated lower portion. The stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank is clear and readable. The KBB in the cloverleaf has more wear than the rest of the stamping. You can also see the grime on the finish in the photo below. The second photo shows the propeller logo on the top left side of the diamond saddle stem.The stem was in decent condition. It was oxidized on both sides of the stem. There were some nicks and tooth marks on both sides near the button and on the top and underside of the button itself. There were no deep tooth marks which is really a relief.I went back to a previous blog about the various Yello-Bole logos in my collection of these pipes. I reread that blog to try to narrow down a date for the pipe. Here is the link to the post and the comments on the blog: There was a comment on that blog that came from Troy who I consider my go to guy for Yello-Bole information (who has written on rebornpipes and also has a blog of his own). Troy wrote as follows on dating Yello-Bole pipes by the stamping and logos.

“I have a large KBB Yello-Bole collection. They are some of my most favorite pipes and the best smokers for the money (briar wise) you can find in my opinion. I have restored and researched them quite a bit. I have several listed on my blog that I have cleaned or restored. I own about 30-40 KBB Yello-Boles now.”

“Here is a little guide to dating KBB Yello-Boles. If it has the KBB stamped in the clover leaf it was made 1955 or earlier as they stopped the stamping after being acquired by S.M. Frank. From 1933-1936 they were stamped Honey Cured Briar. Pipes stems stamped with the propeller logo they were made in the 30s or 40s no propellers were used after the 40s. Yello-Bole also used a 4 digit code stamped on the pipe in the 30s. If the pipe had the Yello-Bole circle stamped on the shank it was made in the 30s this stopped after 1939. If the pipe was stamped BRUYERE rather than briar it was made in the 30s.” (NB. The portions above in bold and underlined were highlighted as they pertain to the present pipe.)

From that information I ascertained the following. The rusticated Premier Bulldog I had was stamped with KBB in the cloverleaf on the left underside of the shank which told me that the pipe was made before 1955. It had a propeller logo on the stem which further placed it in the period of the 30s and 40s. With all of that collected I knew the pipe was made between 1930 and 1949 which means that this old Bulldog has seen a lot of life. I wish it could tell its story.

Ah well… I don’t know for sure where it came from or what previous pipeman carried the trust of this pipe before it came to me. It still needed to be cleaned up. I turned my attention to the restoration of the Bulldog.

Jeff had worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. It is nice to work on pipes that he has cleaned up once again. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove much of the crackling varnish in the grooves of the rustication and the briar beneath was in good condition. The cleaning of the stem left a light oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks were clean but visible. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some photos of the rim top and cap to show what it looked like after Jeff had cleaned off the grime and tars. The briar was in good condition but there were some deep gouges and scratches in the flat top and there were knock marks all around the cap surface. The stem was oxidized and showed tooth chatter and wear but it was otherwise in good condition. There were no deep tooth marks.I started my work on this pipe by lightly topping the bowl to remove the damage to the surface of the rim. It did not take too much topping to remove the damaged areas.I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish that remained. I worked it into the grooves of the rustication with a brass bristle wire brush. Once I was finished the finish was clean and the grain looked really good on the cap and the rim top. The rustication was clean. I took photos of the bowl after the clean up to show the condition of the bowl at this time. It is beginning to look really good. In the third photo below you can see the Yello-Bole Honey Coat still present on the walls of much of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the nicks in the surface of the cap and to smooth out the small nicks around the outer edge of the flat rim top. I polished the rim top and the smooth portions of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies in the rustication on the bowl and the shank a shoe brush. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and then buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the restoration process. I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and the oxidation off the surface of the vulcanite. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and took some photos of the stem at this point.I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then buffing on the wheel with red Tripoli. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. When I finished with the polish I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This older rusticated KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog is an interesting and unusual piece. The rustication on the bowl is really unusual and the framing of it on the shank is quite unique. The smooth rim and cap is quite nice and has some birdseye and swirled grain undulating in the briar. The reddish brown of the bowl and the black of diamond vulcanite stem contrast well together. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I lightly buffed the rim top and shank end as well. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the smooth parts bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand waxed the rustication with several coats of Conservator’s wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside Diameter: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch. It is an interesting old pipe and should make a great collectible piece. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.


1 thought on “Cleaning up a Fascinating KBB Yello-Bole Premier Bulldog

  1. Pingback: A New Old Stock, Unsmoked KBB Yello-Bole Billiard | rebornpipes

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